5 Questions to Ask Your Speaker in 2021

After doing 91 livestream keynotes in the pandemic era, here are 5 topics you should ask every speaker about:  

1. What about HYBRID audience events?

Your event may have in-person attendees AND livestream viewers. How is the speaker making both audience members feel like this moment was designed for them? We want to avoid awkward moments where people feel like they are just watching a speech meant for someone else. 

2. How has the speech changed since before the pandemic?

Some speeches have lost their mass appeal due to the changing times. The pandemic, racial inequality and a number of other factors have changed the way speeches are taken in. Make sure you have the right person by witnessing their updates first hand. Speakers often have the opportunity to bring guests to their events (even online). Ask if you can attend as a guest live so you can see how the live chat, polling and Q&A goes as well. 

3. Audience interaction?

Ask “About how long do you go between each audience interaction?” Speakers shouldn’t go more than 8-10 minutes without a poll, live chat or bringing an audience member on camera with them. The goal is to keep the audience member touching their keyboard and feeling integral to the live moment. The speaker should call people out by name if they respond to prompts; Audiences love that. 

4. Production hardware AND software?

A ring light is not enough. Make sure the speaker is hardwired into fiber-speed internet, has a DSLR camera (no webcams), is using Open Broadcaster Software to change camera/screenshare layouts dynamically and has a microphone with a mixer to adjust levels. You are investing a lot into this moment and it shouldn’t look like just another video call. 

5. Negotiate for a lower fee using a “date-option” contract if you have date flexibility:

“Would you be able to work with us on the fee if we could give you some date flexibility?” – High-demand speakers have all been burned by committing an event with a negotiated, lower fee, but then a full-fee event comes along and the speaker has to say “no” because they are already booked. If your event has date flexibility, offer the speaker a “date option” contract – an agreement that locks the speaker into speaking on 1 of 2 dates, but they must choose which one 30 days before your event. This gives them the flexibility to book a full-fee event on the date they don’t choose and it still gives you 30 days to market your livestream keynote. In fact, since they are locked into speaking regardless, you can market the event with teasers not mentioning a date and then just release the date/time info 30 days before.